Rising Students Struggle Adjusting to Rigor of Upper Level Classes

Junior Samantha Schlictman is one for a challenge. After her sophomore year, she jumped from on-grade level English 10 to Honors English 11. In making this jump she hoped to challenge herself, even if it meant getting a lower grade. But Honors English has turned out, according to Samantha, to be “way harder” than she expected.
Students who are making the jump from on-grade level to upper-level classes often face this problem. According to Schlictman, on-grade level classes are too easy and upper level classes are too challenging.

“The teachers pretty much do the work for you in reg. Last year my teachers did not make us do a lot of essays, and when we did, the teachers walked us through every baby step. But now that I’m in Honors English this year, it is harder to write essays on my own,” said Schlictman.

Junior Austin Jones, who made the jump with Schlictman from on-grade level English 10 to English 11 Honors, is also caught between classes.
“The level for a reg class is set really low . . . Honors for me feels like college level,” said Jones.

English teacher Mrs. Lopez is one of the many educators who provides after school help for students in transition.

“Until you get there, you don’t really realize how hard it is going to be . . . I always talk to my students privately because I like to understand what they are going through on a personal level,” said Mrs. Lopez.

But extra help is not always enough. With the change in rigor these students must face, many require individual support and individualized assistance, which can be hard to find.

Junior Nour Aboumatar is a student who has taken an on grade level course before and is currently taking all Honors, GT, and AP courses. She knows firsthand how different these courses can be.

“It’s not the work that’s necessarily harder; it’s the way you are treated by the teachers and the expectations for the class,” said Aboumatar.

Aboumatar believes that students who are transitioning must realize that higher-level classes simply require more effort from the individual.

Guidance counselor Mrs. Dee Dee Macer has been working for Wilde Lake for 11 years. She has encountered several hundred students who have come to her in their times of need.

“We have Bridges after school, a parent volunteer tutoring program, teacher conferences with the student, and parents and individual teachers offer extra help classes after school,” said Mrs. Macer.

“Students,” said Mrs. Macer, just “need to advocate for themselves more.”
According to Mrs. Macer, “Students are only switched out of classes by parent or teacher request, so unless a student speaks up to a parent or teacher about the problems they are having in school, nothing will be done about it.”

Besides support from advisors at school and at home, veteran jumpers offer many tips for students who are struggling in their classes and are not sure if they are ready to make a jump.

“If you are prepared to work harder and learn how to manage your time wisely,” said Schlictman “moving up will be a good option. All you can do is make sure you are taking the initiative to seek help if you are struggling, challenge yourself, and most importantly, don’t give up.”

Schlictman is currently working hard to pull up her grades. She hopes to turn her grade around by the end of the school year so she can be proud of what she has accomplished in her Honors class.

“I am going to persevere, turn in my work more, seek a tutor, and try to improve my writing skills, so I can finish off this year successfully,” said Schlictman.

According to Mrs. Macer, the difficulty in jumping up a class level lies in the fact that students are not well informed about how to succeed in an upper-level class. She believes that taking advantage of opportunities, such as tutoring and after-school help sessions, are essential for a smooth transition.

“The work isn’t harder,” said Mrs. Macer. “It’s just new.”